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cannot allow himself to moderate or correct it; he goes on indulging it in that train which take beft and raises the loudest laugh. There is so much of ill-will and self-conceit in the world, as gives a relish to ill-natured jokes. There is often in the characters of wits themselves such a defect in more material accomplishments, and so much envy to bend their own inclination to the malicious abuse of their talent. On these accounts it is no wonder so much scandal is spoke in the form of wit. Much of that which may seem innocent is not so. The nioment one is held forth in a ridiculous point of view, a prejudice springs up against him. Wit embitters an evil report, and is a mean of spreading it. Thoughtless people spread it for the sake of a laugh.
• One of the first liberties which the witty affume, when they give way to evil speaking, is to break in on the limits of truth. They often find this necessary to make their story palatable. The mirth which it excites reconciles them to the impropriety of it, or rather diverts them from thinking it at all improper. The most of us are too apt to fall, in with this; to consider the wit of a story that is false, and the mirth which it occasions as an apology for its falsehood; forgetting that truth is facred, and that a good name is sacred.
• Another liberty which they assume, in process of time, is to turn virtue itself into ridicule. They are happy to ridicule that virtue which they cannot imitate, and which is a perpetual reproach. The modest and diffident, who are thus evil spoken of an account of their virtue, may be tempted to conceal or to abandon it.
• It were easy to show how the witty, who give way to evil speaks ing, are gradually betrayed into the worst kind of it, and how it produces the worst effects both on themselves and others. Every one against whom they employ their malicious wit becomes an enemy. Their passion for wit grows so violent, that they sometimes facrifice a friend to it. Even those who court, admire, and Aatter a witty man, dare not trust him. His ill-natured affections get quite the better of the social and kind. That talent which at first made him known and lought, which heightened social enjoyment, and made him the general favourite ; has now, by an unhappy abuse, estranged him from the genuine pleasures of society. He is now a melancholy proof, that
even in this lite judgments are prepared for the scorner. • Persons of wit, who regard their own character and comfort, will carefully avoid this channel of evil speaking. It is not the way to be trusted, it is not the way to be honoured, it is not the way to be useful.'
This abrupt ftyle being so different from the modern tafte in writing, we are apprehensive, that even solid and useful observations and there are many, very many such in the work) will scarcely be oble, in such an unusual dress, to obtain that audience from the public, to which real merit, in whatever garb, is juftly entitled
Art. XI. The Elements of the Science of Ethics, on the Principles of
Natural Philosophy. By Joho Bruce, A.M. Professor of Philoso-
ways engaged the thoughts of the learned ; and has produced, in every age and country where philosophy has been cultivated, many curious and ingenious speculations. To the universal desire of becoming acquainted with the nature and faculties of our own mind, we owe the valuable productions of a Plato, an Aristotle, and a Cicero, among the ancients; a Locke, a Clarke, a Hutcheson, and a Smith, among the moderns. It is no wonder that the subject should have engaged the attention of these great men, since it is in itself a pleasing enquiry, and an investigation which must ever be productive of fingular benefits to mankind, independent of that natural propensity and laudable curiosity, which incites the inquisitive mind to explain the many and apparently insurmountable difficulties, with which the subject of Ethics has been surrounded.
The Author of the present performance has followed a different path from that which has been pursued by any of his prea deceffors. He has endeavoured to reduce the science of morals to the same certainty that attends other sciences. He has attempted to dilli pate the clouds which obscure it, by subjecting it to the same rules that are observed in natural philosophy.
The science of Physics has always proceeded on a natural history, or analysis of phenomena; and by a scientific use of experiments and evidence, conclusions and inductions have been established which describe the laws of nature relative to material objects. Thus, experiment and observation were the means by which attradtion was first discovered; and a careful attention to various phenomena led the contemplative philosopher to form a fyftem agreeable to the laws of nature, and to establish a science on the same basis as that on which nature herself is founded, namely on the immutable and everlasting principles of truth.
Mr. Bruce, considering the different situations of these two sciences, and that the subject of each of them is nature, was induced to attempt applying the method of studying natural philo. sophy to the science of ethics,
He begins with explaining the objects of philosophy, and, observing that they are all to be found in nature, he marks ous the specific diftin&ions of each, and shews how the objects to which ethics relate, may be obterved with as much certainty and advantage, as those of the material world, which engage the attention of the natural philosopher,
The first part of this work is employed in giving a history of ethics. Our Author, considering ethics as an art, is induced so treat largely on art in general, which he defines to be the application of rulis to the purposes of life.' It would be in vain, he thinks, to seek for the origin of arts in the defaced vestiges of antiquity; he therefore traces the origin of arts from the characters of the human mind in the progressive situation of man from rudeness to refinement. 'The love of life, of pleasure, and of novelty, are, in bis opinion, uniform propenficies in the mind, which impel it to the invention and improvement of the arts. These propenfities are separately created, and the progreffive methods, by which they create or improve, respectively, the necessary, the fine, and the liberal arts, are pointed out. Mr. Bruce ihen shews how these same propensities produce the abical arts, or those which regulate our conduct; these he divides into necessary, useful, and liberal. The first appearance of ethics, as an art, is vifible in the rude forms of subordination and jurisdiction ; ethics, as an art, he thinks, is observable in the proverbs and maxims of every early and rude people, but more especially in those collections of proverbs, made by wise men and distinguished characters, and in the instruction given by allegories and fables ; but above all, in the arrangement of the cardinal virtues by the Greek moralifts. Our Author takes a very extensive view of the several ftages of the art, and dwells long on the improvements it underwent by the Greeks, who referred all the maxims of morality to the duties which we owe to ourfelves, comprehended under the three great divisions, Temperance, Fortitude, and Prudence; and to the duties which we owe to mankind, included under the very general term of Justice.
Mr. Bruce then proceeds to consider ethics as a science. In this part of the work the reader is presented with a concise and comprehensive history of the moral philosophy of the ancients; and with many sensible remarks on the causes which retard the progress of science in general, but more especially the science of the human mind.
In the next chapter, our Author, considering the state of ethics both as an art and a science among the moderns, enters into a paticular derail of the tenets of most of the modern mosalists: the opinions of Hobbes, Malebranche, Cudworth, Clarke, Hutchinson *, Hume, and Smith, are separately examined.
The fecond part of this work is entitled Of the Principles of Natural Philosophy.' Mr. Bruce here thews the necessity of method in the Itudy of nature; but he is somewhat defective in the practice of that accuracy which he recommends. It is uni
* The Author means Hutcheson, Profeflor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow.
versally versally allowed that natural philosophy, in all its branches, owes its present perfection to the accuracy with which it hath been treated by late philosophers; who have been convinced, that, in order to make their writings intelligible, it was necessary to affix certain and determinate ideas to certain terms, so that the same words or expressions might always convey the same ideas. Mr. Bruce has involved himself in no little obscurity by ufing, in this part of his work, the same word in different significations ; for the word method, in the phrase Method in the ftudy of nature necessary' (which is the title of the first section of chap. i. part ii.) being used without the article a, signifies order, in which sense we took it; but we were surprized at finding in the next paragraph that method is used by Mr. Bruce to fignify manner, way, or means, when he says, “The human mind has but two obvious methods of acquiring the knowledge of nature.' But we shall proceed with the Author's plan.
The human mind,' says he, has but two obvious methods of acquiring the knowledge of nature.
lift, It is addressed by some general rule or principle, under the authority of which it is to explain every particular phenomenon or case.
( 2d, It is to observe particular phenomena or cases, and from their coincidence in qualities and relations, it is to deduce the rule or law of nature by which they are diftinguished.'
These methods of Mr. Bruce do not effentially differ from those of the old schools, à priort and à pofteriore. He prefers the latter, which he terms the method of science : he here treats largely of science in general, and of the science of analysis and of induction, in particular; analysis is subdivided into analysis by composition, and analysis by decomposition. These subtilicies confuse the subject without any necessity, not to mention the contradiction in the term, analysis by composition !
In the third part, Mr. Bruce attempts to adopt those methods which he had before explained. He is desirous of introducing analysis and induction into the science of ethics, and from the uniform and regular appearance of certain phenomena, to eftablish fixed and determinate rules. In this part, however, we think he has failed. The plan is ingenious, but the execution is imperfect. Nevertheless, the very laudable endeavours which our Author has made to remove the difficulties, and illu. minate the obscurities to which ethics has long been subject, intitles him to gratitude; and we should be happy to see his future attempts crowned with better success. The following hints may, perhaps, not be unworthy the attention either of Mr. Bruce or any other ingenious person, who may be defirous of pursuing this important subject, or of making any future attempts to reduce morality to sure and certain principles.
The precision and accuracy which mathematicians have introduced into the study of natural philosophy, appears to be the chief, if not the only reason why that science has been brought to so great a state of perfe&ion by the moderns. From analogy then, moral philosophy can never receive greater improvement than by introducing mathematical precision into the study of it. Let moralists use no terms but such as are defined, and have determinate fignifications annexed to them : and we hesitate not to pronounce that moral philosophy will be much improved, and wear a very different aspect from that which the hath been ac. cultomed to assume. Let no propofition be advanced that cannot be fully and clearly demonstrated : this precaution will effe&tually prevent contradiction in principles, fince nothing contradictory will then gain admission into the system. Above all, let the writers on the subject be men of universal learning, and well versed in mathematical knowledge, for in vain may they attempt to apply to any other science, the principles or methods of one, in which they have made little or no proficiency.
We must not conclude without observing, that we have seldom seen a book in which impropriety of expression and provincial idiom fo frequently occur as in the present performance: the Janguage is in general obscure, and betrays hafte or negligence in the Author. This we are the more surprised at, fince, in fome parts of his work, he has given proofs of elegance of style, propriety of diction, and juftness of sentiment.
R- myhore Art. XII. The Anatomy of the Absorbing Vessels of the Human Body. By William Cruikshank. 400.
beside the anatomy of the lymphatics, the whole doc. trine of absorption is here amply explained, the objections against it are aniwered, and the opinion of former physiologifts is overturned. That the lymphatics are the only absorbent vefl-Is, is the fact that Mr. C. throughout his whole performance, is desirous to establish. His arguments, which are chiefly those of the late Dr. Hunter, must however be examined, and only such conclusions admitted as can be supported by strict reasoning, founded on observation, and the known laws of nature.
Our Author begins, not with describing the parts, as is usual with most physiologists, but with treating on absorption in general, which he defines to be • A property in certain vessels of the body, by which they take up the Auids in which their orifices are immersed, and propel them forward to the blood-yefsels.' Whether it is a property may be doubtful; it is certainly an action. Absorption necessarily supposing the presence of a Auid in some cavity, or at least so atuated as to be in contact with the